The Four Thirds User FAQ
1. Why did you decide to create Four Thirds User (FTU)?
2. There are a number of independent enthusiast sites dedicated to all things Four Thirds – isn't FTU competing with them?
3. Does FTU believe Four Thirds is the best camera system on the planet?
4. Where is FTU based?
5. You also publish Digital Photography Now; isn't that a conflict of interests?
6. How close are your links to the Four Thirds consortium members?
7. How is FTU funded?
8. What kind of articles does FTU publish?
9. Let's say, for argument's sake, you aren't very impressed with an item of Four Thirds equipment. How will you reflect this in your articles?
10. What makes Four Thirds special to the people behind FTU?
Q. Why did you decide to create Four Thirds User (FTU)?
A. The Four Thirds standard is the product of bold and imaginative thinking, with innovation its leading inspiration. But it is a monumental task to build a system from scratch and to become an established player in such a competitive market. We are now beginning to see the true potential of Four Thirds thinking, but it is still a very widely misunderstood concept. Four Thirds User answers the need of both established users and potential users of the Four Thirds system, to provide a stage to celebrate the work achieved through the use of Four Thirds equipment, to help users get the most out of their gear and to act as a resource to help people understand what Four Thirds is really about and to dispel popular myths about Four Thirds technology. While other camera marques have many independent sites supporting their users, there are relatively few dedicated to the Four Thirds System. We hope to fill the gap!
Q. There are a number of independent enthusiast sites dedicated to all things Four Thirds – isn't FTU competing with them?
A. It's certainly not our intention to compete with such sites, indeed, we would like to help promote such sites. Yes, there will be some overlap, but we will be monitoring many of these sites and highlighting their activities regularly. And I hope that users of these sites will relish having another site, in FTU, to further improve their Four Thirds Experience.
Q. Does FTU believe Four Thirds is the best camera system on the planet?
A. We're not radically fanatic to the exclusion of all else, of course not. This site respects the technologies and achievements of other enthusiast and professional level camera system manufacturers. We expect FTU patrons to share this respect. In some areas, Four Thirds equipment will show distinct advantages, in other areas less so, and this is perfectly normal. No system is perfect, but we feel that the radical thinking behind the Four Thirds concept does present many tangible advantages. We want to help users make best use of these advantages and to provide the Four Thirds manufacturers with valuable feedback on how to further improve their offerings.
Q. Where is FTU based?
A. The company behind FTU is The Write Technology Limited. We're based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, about 20 miles north west of the central London, in the UK. We write in British English. Our web servers are in the US. The technical team behind the site is a virtual one, with individuals in the US, France, and Hong Kong. We'd really like to be multi-lingual, one day.
Q. You also publish Digital Photography Now; isn't that a conflict of interests?
A. Absolutely not. DPNow is general purpose online photography magazine, without any specific focus on one camera system. We are certainly passionate about Four Thirds, but to be truly objective, we believe, as we are, you need to be passionate about photography in general. We won't pull our punches if a feature from a rival system to Four Thirds is superior. Without objectivity, how can you value what you do? On top of that, we believe that much of the content produced by DPNow will be very complementary to the more specific content on FTU.
Q. How close are your links to the Four Thirds consortium members?
A. We enjoy very good links with the component companies that make up the Four Thirds consortium, in the UK, Europe and in Japan. We have been most encouraged by their interest, enthusiasm and assistance in the creation of FTU, which would have been impossible with out their encouragement.
Q. How is FTU funded?
A. We successfully raised start-up capital for the FTU project at the beginning of 2007. The long term business model is for the site to be maintained and developed through advertising and sponsorship. If you would like to make a contribution to help fund FTU, please get in touch.
Q. What kind of articles does FTU publish?
A. We produce articles in-house and commission freelance journalists and specialists to contribute articles covering equipment and software reviews, tutorials, news, interviews, and comment. One of the advantages of having a readership with one core common interest is that there will be interest in specialist articles that general publications would not consider publishing. The possibilities are almost unlimited – at least only limited by our capacity to produce a certain number of articles in a given time. We use scientific and computer-based analysis, in-house, for equipment testing, as well as expert human judgment. We are always interested in what our readers say they want. We will regularly provide the opportunity for our readers, even those without a journalistic background, to contribute articles as long as we are confident that, as a team, we can deliver to the required standard. In addition, there is the FTU Knowledgebase, a Wikipedia-style interactive encyclopaedia that anyone can contribute to, at any time, though of course contributions will be monitored and edited, where appropriate.
Q. Let's say, for argument's sake, you aren't very impressed with an item of Four Thirds equipment. How will you reflect this in your articles?
A. Objectivity and accuracy are imperative. We simply won't say something is OK, or even 'good' when it isn't. But it's not our style to use tabloid-style journalism to ridicule anything. We aim to dig out facts as accurately as possible and place them in a sensible context. We also believe strongly that what is one person's delight, may be someone else's disappointment. Aspects of a complicated item's performance will be appreciated in a wide range of terms. We aim to be balanced: neither rubbishing the competition, nor placing Four Thirds on a pedestal if it doesn't warrant it. And this applies to debates on the discussion forum. Moderators will be obliged to remind over-enthusiastic posters of reality if any questionable assumptions are the basis for unreasonable praise or condemnation.
Q. What makes Four Thirds special to the people behind FTU?
A. We really admire the concept, designed from the ground up to be based on digital sensor technology. This is a thoroughbred interchangeable lens system for the digital era. And there have been lots of firsts: being all new for digital, the smallest DSLR, Live View, Supersonic Wave filter dust cleaning technology and more. Now we're seeing a technologically strong system, with a very wide lens choice, in-body and in-lens image stabilisation and, soon, Supersonic Wave Drive autofocus lenses. One by one, the perceived weaknesses in the Four Thirds system are being addressed, and photographers who have invested early in the many excellent lenses already available, are being rewarded for their patience with the arrival of very capable and advanced bodies to choose from. Four Thirds is in the ascendant at last and we think we’re just at the start of a very exciting journey with FTU.